Did you really think I could go through today without noting that it’s the 61st anniversary of the bikini’s official introduction to the fashion world? The story goes that it was on this date back in 1946, when French fashion designer Jacques Heim debuted his delightfully revealing alternative to conventional two-piece women’s bathing suits at a show in Paris. The garment “was named after Bikini Atoll, the site of nuclear weapon tests a few days earlier in the Marshall Islands,” explains Wikipedia, “on the reasoning that the burst of excitement it would cause would be like the nuclear device.” As Slate writer Julia Turner makes clear in her photographic retrospective, beaches, swimming pools, and adolescent boy’s fantasies haven’t been the same since. The bikini has been celebrated in song, become a fixture in movies (remember Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in the 1962 James Bond flick Dr. No?) and television (would Miami Vice or CSI: Miami have been nearly so popular without tight-bodied lovelies in thongs?), and made a small fortune for Sports Illustrated.
Bikinis have grown small, smaller, and smallest over the last six decades, turning women toward dieting, liposuction, and spray-on tans in hopes of looking their best in these skimpy habiliments. Yet they’ve still not worn out their welcome.
READ MORE: “Make a Splash: The World’s Most Famous Swimsuits,” by Hilary Moss (The Huffington Post.).